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The Probationer's name was really Nella Jane Brown, but she was
entered in the training school as N. Jane Brown. However, she meant
when she was accepted to be plain Jane Brown. Not, of course, that
she could ever be really plain.
People on the outside of hospitals have a curious theory about
nurses, especially if they are under twenty. They believe that they
have been disappointed in love. They never think that they may
intend to study medicine later on, or that they may think nursing is
a good and honourable career, or that they may really like to care
for the sick.
The man in this story had the theory very hard.
When he opened his eyes after the wall of the warehouse dropped, N.
Jane Brown was sitting beside him. She had been practising counting
pulses on him, and her eyes were slightly upturned and very earnest.
There was a strong odour of burnt rags in the air, and the man
sniffed. Then he put a hand to his upper lip--the right hand. She
was holding his left.
"Did I lose anything besides this?" he inquired. His little
moustache was almost entirely gone. A gust of fire had accompanied
"Your eyebrows," said Jane Brown.
The man--he was as young for a man as Jane Brown was for a
nurse--the man lay quite still for a moment. Then:
"I'm sorry to undeceive you," he said. "But my right leg is off."
He said it lightly, because that is the way he took things. But he
had a strange singing in his ears.
"I'm afraid it's broken. But you still have it." She smiled. She had
a very friendly smile. "Have you any pain anywhere?"
He was terribly afraid she would go away and leave him, so, although
he was quite comfortable, owing to a hypodermic he had had, he
groaned slightly. He was, at that time, not particularly interested
in Jane Brown, but he did not want to be alone. He closed his eyes
and said feebly:
She gave him a teaspoonful, bending over him and being careful not
to spill it down his neck. Her uniform crackled when she moved. It
had rather too much starch in it.
The man, whose name was Middleton, closed his eyes. Owing to the
morphia, he had at least a hundred things he wished to discuss. The
trouble was to fix on one out of the lot.
"I feel like a bit of conversation," he observed. "How about you?"
Then he saw that she was busy again. She held an old-fashioned
hunting-case watch in her hand, and her eyes were fixed on his
chest. At each rise and fall of the coverlet her lips moved. Mr.
Middleton, who was feeling wonderful, experimented. He drew four
very rapid breaths, and four very slow ones. He was rewarded by
seeing her rush to a table and write something on a sheet of yellow
"Resparation, very iregular," was what she wrote. She was not a
particularly good speller.
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